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Companies Bid To Build Casks For San Onofre’s Nuclear Waste

Photo credit: dolanh / Flickr

The silhouette of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, April 12, 2012.

Southern California Edison's Community Engagement Panel is considering options for storing nuclear waste at San Onofre.

Southern California Edison’s Community Engagement Panel met Tuesday to hear bids from companies vying to create storage for nuclear waste at the decommissioned San Onofre Power Plan.

Two companies presented their proposals to construct casks where the radioactive waste would be stored on-site, perhaps indefinitely.

Panel member and Oceanside Councilman Jerry Kern said his main concern is the casks’ longevity.

“My big question, since we’re going to be so long at that site, is how they will withstand, I think the hostile environment, of being close to the ocean,” Kern said. “These things are licensed for twenty years, we’re going to be in there longer than twenty years. If you’re in the salt air, what happens? Because the canisters are steel, so they are susceptible to rust.”

Groups that lobbied to have the plant closed down are concerned that the technology for long term storage may not be fully understood.

Panel members questioned companies about the quality of materials the casks are made of, and the redundancy built into the storage systems if something fails.

Southern California Edison will weigh manufacturers’ presentations and community concerns, and select a company by the end of next month.

Once casks are built and delivered, the process of moving nuclear waste from storage pools into permanent dry storage will begin. The goal is to have it all in dry casks by 2019, and to eventually relocate waste off site.

Promise Yee is a North County freelance writer. Contact her at Twitter: @promisenews. Facebook: promise.yee.1.

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